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As the race to produce the next Alaafin of Oyo advances, nine royal families from the town have begun moves to establish their right to the throne.
The nine families insisted as members of the Atiba ruling house and direct descendants of the Alaafin Atiba, the first Alaafin of the current Oyo, their right to ascend the throne must be officially recognised during the current race to fill the stool.
The stool became vacant following the demise of Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III on April 23. He spent 51 years on the throne.
The race to fill the vacant stool is already heating up within the Agunloye royal compound, the second ruling compound that has been producing the Alaafin.
Occupants of the throne have been rotated between Alowolodu and Agunloye compounds but nine families have requested their inclusion.
The families are Olanite, Tella Okitipapa, Adesiyan, Tella Agbojulogun, Adelabu, Baba Idode, Abidekun, Adediran and Adeitan.
They contended that Alaafin Atiba had 11 sons, not two, as has been popularly believed, which makes the throne rotates between Alowolodu and Agunloye families.
The nine families have urged the Oyo Governor, Seyi Makinde, to look into and implement the 1976 report on the Alaafin of Oyo Chieftaincy Declaration, as a prerequisite for the appointment of the next Alaafin of Oyo.
They said the recommendations made in the report of a Commission of Enquiry set up in 1974, and gazetted by the state government on 16 July, 2001, should guide the governor in choosing a successor to the Alaafin throne.
Based on the Alaafin of Oyo Chieftaincy Declaration, as recommended by the then Oyo Divisional Council, documents show that the ruling houses in Oyo were limited to the Alowolodu (where the late Oba Adeyemi III hailed from) and the Agunloye (variously referred to as Ladigbolu or Gbadegesin) families.
However, the nine other royal families, who also belong to the Atiba Ruling House, said using the arrangement to appoint a new Alaafin is illegal and contrary to the amendment, recommended by the state government, to the Alaafin of Oyo Chieftaincy Declaration.
At their recent meetings in Oyo, the nine royal families are working hard to ensure that they are officially included in the Atiba Ruling house in line with a 2001 gazette by the State Government which stipulates that only one ruling house exists in Oyo which includes royal families.
Their spokesperson, Mogaji Afolabi Ademola Adeitan of the Adeitan/Atiba royal family, implored Makinde to be guided in appointing the next Alaafin of Oyo by looking into the recommendations contained in the 1976 Report and as gazetted by the State Government on 16 July, 2001.
He said, rather than two, as claimed by the Alowolodu and Agunloye families, 11 royal houses have a right to the throne and, with the first two having successively produced the last two Alaafins, the remaining nine royal families should be allowed to produce the next successor.
Ademola said: “It is very wrong and illegal to claim that we have just the Alowolodu and Agunloye families as the only two ruling houses in Oyo.
“We have one Atiba Ruling House, consisting of 11 direct descendants of Atiba. These include Agunloye, Alowolodu, Olanite, Tella Okitipapa, Adesiyan Tella Agbojulogun, Adelabu, Baba Idode, Abidekun, Adediran and Adeitan families.
“The Alaafin of Oyo Chieftaincy Declaration has been declared defective, since 1976, just as the Oyo State government has, since then, pronounced that the other nine royal families are equally entitled to producing successors to the throne.
“The report of a Commission of Enquiry, as attested to in a letter written to the then Oyo Local Council on 8 December, 1976, had declared the Alaafin of Oyo Chieftaincy Declaration defective for failing to accommodate the other nine royal families.
“The recommendation contained in the 1976 Report of the Commission of Enquiry was equally accepted by the Oyo State government and was gazetted in the Oyo State of Nigeria: Gazette on 16 July, 2001.
“In the interest of peace, fairness, equity and justice, we hereby appeal to the Oyo State governor, Engineer ‘Seyi Makinde, to look into all these documents and act accordingly.
“All eyes are on the governor, Oyo Kingdom and the entire Oyo State as we look forward to the appointment of a worthy 45th Alaafin of Oyo who will be acceptable to all,” Mogaji Afolabi said.
The Oyo State government, in a letter through the then Oyo Local Government Council on December 8, 1976, declared the then Alaafin of Oyo Chieftaincy Declaration defective for failing to recognise the nine royal families as successors to the Alaafin throne.
The government had expressly stated the defect in the letter titled “Letter to Atiba descendants on Alaafin of Oyo Chieftaincy Declaration,”, addressed to the 11 royal families and signed by the secretary of the then local council, one S. O. O. Opadiran.
“I have been directed by the Secretary to the Oyo State Military government and Head of Service to inform you that the Oyo State Executive Council has declared the chieftaincy Declaration in respect of Alaafin of Oyo defective and has directed that the chieftaincy committee of the defunct Oyo Southern Local Government Council should prepare a new Declaration providing for only one Ruling House, the Atiba Ruling House, to include all the descendants of Atiba.
“I am further to inform you that necessary action is being taken in compliance with the directives of the Executive Council and you will be further informed of progress on the matter, if necessary, in due course,” the letter stated in part.
It is not clear if the state government will accede to their request.